Metro Derailment, Collision at Fort Totten, 6 Dead

Train Derail
Courtesy of WUSA-9 via Twitter & Flickr

Courtesy of NBC Washington via Twitter & Flickr

Shortly after 5pm today, two Metro Red Line trains collided just outside the Fort Totten Metro station. Systemwide delays in the middle of rush hour are now to be expected. It’s not clear at this time if there were any injuries in the trains that have collided. Metro is slicing the Red Line in half for the rest of the day with a full service interruption between Fort Totten and Brookland, and power has been cut to those tracks.

We’ll be updating this story with news.

Update 42 [8:55pm] ABC is going to be halting their coverage at 9pm this evening. Currently, they’re talking with GWU Hospital, which received 26 patients from today’s crash, most of which were “green tag” patients in need of treatment, two were red tag patients in critical condition. They’re being looked at now.

Update 41 [8:42pm] The Washington Post now has a Gallery of Photos from the Scene of today’s accident.

Update 40 [8:30pm]Mayor Fenty is starting now. There’s going to be an 8am briefing tomorrow. We’ve just visited the scene of the collision. The scene is as horrific as you can imagine. Our deepest condolences to the families of all the victims. 70+ transported off the trains to the hospital. Chief Rubin will give more information shortly. There are six fatalities confirmed on the scene right now. It will take a few hours to get through the whole scene to make sure there aren’t any other casualties.

Chief Rubin: 76 transported. 50 walking wounded (green tag), 14 yellow tag and 6 red tags and 6 fatalities. We’re continuing to staff all our stations, plus we’re relying on support from surrounding communities and we thank them. We’ve been working 3.5 hrs, 200-250 firefighters at the scene. They’re down to the two cars that are smashed together. Two responder injuries, both have been transported and are seeking treatment now at area hospitals.

Chief Lanier: Do not come to the site. New Hampshire Ave is closed from North Capitol to Eastern.

GM Catoe: Our condolences to the families who’ve lost loved ones. We’re still in investigation mode to determine the cause. We will not operate this segment until at least tomorrow. Manual mode is in effect, with reduced speeds. (this would indicate that the automatic system may be part of the problem here). Thank you to MPD and DC Fire/EMS. This is a tragic event. We will get to the bottom and find out what happened. The NTSB is involved, and we have a federal responsibility to find out what occured here today.

NTSB Examiner Kirshman: My condolences from NTSB, We know there are fatalities, and local groups will handle the announcements regarding this. There are 9 investigators and additional personnel from NTSB involved. We are working closely with local responders and the Mayor. Train 214 and Train 112 were involved in today’s crash. We will begin once they’re finished with the accident response.

Chief Rubin: The primary search is still underway. One of the train is compressed 75-80% at this point. Jaws of Life are being used. We will make sure the train is cleared, living or dead, before the investigation begins.

NTSB: We’re looking at maintenance, the tracks, and working with Metro to do initial documentation, but NOT until the accident response is complete.

FBI Agent: The FBI Evidence Response team will be participating with NTSB. We will meticulously review this scene. I caution also against assumptions about what happened and how it happened.

Chairman Graham: The board will convene at 2pm tomorrow to discuss

GM Catoe: I will not comment further until we have more detailed information. We’re in the mode of recovery. Once the investigation is complete, we’ll release information. GM Catoe looks very tired.

Update 39 [8:20pm] MPD is now requesting you call 311 to inquire about loved ones potentially injured or killed today. Do NOT call the SOC. If you’re out of the District, please call 202.737.4404 which is the Metro Accident Information Line.

Update 38 [8:06pm] A second press conference is expected soon with the NTSB and Mayor Fenty, according to DC Fire Department Spokesman on ABC 7

Update 37 [8:04pm] The six dead are independent of those who were transported to the GWU Hospital, according to ABC 7. ABC, NBC and CBS are continuing live coverage, while Fox has opted for House. Nice work there, Fox.

Update 36 [8:00pm] CBS’ Mark Knoller reported that the moving train did try to stop: “Arriving at hospital, passenger from moving train says it felt like the train was trying to stop before the impact.”

Update 35 [7:58pm] CNN is now reporting that six total have died in the tragedy today.

Update 34 [7:55pm] We’re hearing reports at this time that either 2 or 3 more passengers may have died on board the trains today. We’re also hearing that Metro’s Central Ops Center was trying frantically trying to reach the moving train that struck the stopped train, via WUSA-9.

Update 33 [7:50pm]

Metro Map

This is what the metro system looks like this evening. The striped area of the Red Line is inoperative at this time, and will likely remain that way for at least 24-48 hours. There are some absolutely awful photos coming out of the crash including this photo from the Post’s service.

Update 32 [7:45pm] Wow. WUSA-9 just got trolled by a Howard Stern attention-getter. What kind of uncouth jackass do you have to be?

Update 31 [7:30pm] To recap: 4 dead, 2 more critically injured, 12 transported to hospitals in stable but serious condition, and 50+ with minor injuries. Two red line trains were single tracking southbound on the Red Line (toward DC). One train was stopped, and was then rammed by the other train, resulting in a “piggyback” situation. One of the dead is confirmed to be the female train operator on the colliding train. Service on the Red Line is dramatically affected at this point. Bus service is being put in place, but won’t cover the same transit volume. Start to make alternate plans for tomorrow if this is your regular ride.

Update 30 [7:25pm] Red Line service will be halted until the investigation has run its course. This will drastically affect service in the area, as the red line is now split between Fort Totten and Takoma Park and may remain that way for a few days. Start to look into buses and other means of transit at this point if that’s part of your regular routine.

Update 29 [7:20pm] There will be another briefing in the morning after the NTSB completes part of their investigation.

Chief Lanier: DO NOT come to the scene. Call the SOC: 202.727.9099. They might also not know where your loved one is, so be patient.

Update 28 [7:10pm] Adrian Fenty is beginning his press conference. There are 4 fatalities confirmed now. This is the deadliest accident in the history of our train system. Condolences expressed to the families of the dead not yet notified. Our fire department is still going through the cars, treating patients, and finding bodies that still remain on the scene. We are cooperating fully with WMATA and NTSB.

Chief Rubin is now on the scene. Responded to what was to have been a small incident, 2 trains collided. 3 alarm response underway, about 200 firefighters and EMS. We’re calling in reserves from Fairfax, Arlington and surrounding area to cover us. 70 patients injured. 50 “green” triage patients, largely walking wounded. 12 “yellow” injuries. 2 “red tags” with serious wounds. Two transported by air to hospitals. We’re conducting rescue operations, and will do so for quite some time.

Chief Rubin: Do NOT come to the scene.

Mayor Fenty: There will be a full transit brief shortly. CSX rail, MARC rail, and Metro rail will be disrupted through the morning.

GM Catoe: My condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones today. To the families of the injured, our pain is with you. What happened at 5:02/03 today was one train was stopped was waiting to get the order to pass, the next train came up behind it, and for reasons we do not know was allowed to collide into the train. Operator of the colliding train lost their life. NTSB has jurisdiction. We are searching through the train looking for other signs of life.

Update 27 [7:05pm] WUSA-9 is reporting that there are up to 4 fatalities.

Update 26 [7:04pm] Metro obliquely says that one of the fatalities is their own: “We are extremely saddened that there are fatalities as a result of this accident, which has touched our Metro family. We hope to have more details about the casualties later today.”
Update 25 [7:01pm] There’s a press conference now scheduled for 7:15pm. Jim Graham, Muriel Bowser, Mayor Fenty, GM John Catoe and Cathy Lanier are all on-site as it stands. NBC is now reporting 100+ casualties, between injuries and death. City Paper is reporting that one of the dead is the metro train driver.

Update 24 [7:00pm] Mayor Fenty is now on the scene. This is the train crash at Cleveland Park back in 2004 and it looks very similar to the crash that we’re seeing today. It is eerily reminiscent, as well, due to track work near the stations, and single-tracking of trains in the affected areas.

Update 23 [6:57pm] We’ve got two hours to civil twilight, we’re entering the race against time phase. Hopefully Metro is already in process to get some big construction lights in place. While ABC 7 is reporting 3 on board still, WUSA 9 is reporting that the trains are clear. Official information is ceasing until there’s a press conference with the Mayor. Time is not clear for that one.

Update 22 [6:53pm] Metro is reporting that, “Shuttle busses are running and we are adding busses as they become available.

Update 21 [6:50pm] We’re also hearing that buses are filling up very quickly, and Cait Douglas from Twitter reports that two L2 buses in a row have gone by full. Park Police helicopter Eagle-1 is now taking a patient out via air at 2nd & Oglethorpe.

Update 20 [6:46pm] Penn & Camden MARC trains are still running, while Brunswick line is stopped indefinitely.

Update 19 [6:44pm] There are at least three people still stuck on the train and we’re not sure if they’re alive or dead. Confirming two dead in the accident (ABC 7)

Update 18 [6:36pm] At this point, system-wide delays are making Metro-rail unusable at this point. Consider Buses, and the Metro Twitter Feed is providing alternate options.

Update 17 [6:33pm] FBI has said they’re their in a support capacity and that’s it at this point.

Update 16 [6:30pm] NBC now has Live Chopper Video from the scene. NBC is reporting 4 of the 12 cars are involved in the “overtopping” from one train to another.

Update 15 [6:25pm] NBC’s Pat Collins is reporting 55 “walking wounded” taken to area hospitals so far. Several others stuck in the cars with potentially more serious injuries. Medevac helicopters are using 2nd & Oglethorpe for evac. Stay AWAY from 2nd & Oglethorpe.
View Larger Map

Update 14 [6:20pm] CNN has now confirmed a second fatality.

Update 13 [6:17pm] NBC is reporting that FBI agents are on-scene. No current reason is given for their present.

Update 12 Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains out of Union Station are currently delayed while response continues.

Update 11 [6:15pm] Metro does not now how many people are aboard the trains. Cathy Asato is on WNBC now. Avoid the area, Avoid the Red Line. There’s now shuttle coverage between Rhode Island Ave & Takoma Park, and Silver Spring & Takoma Park

Update 10 [6:11pm] WNBC is interviewing a witness now, they’re reporting one train rear-ended another.

Update 9 [6:10pm] “This system is safe.” — John Catoe

Update 8 [6:06pm] Metro GM John Catoe is giving a live conference: There was a collision at approximately 5:05pm, we’re still evacuating the train at this time. We’re still determining the casualties, and we’re still working on clearing the train. The collision took place because the trains were on the same track. There are still people being taken out of the trains.

Update 7 [6:03pm] Picture updated via WUSA-9.

Update 6 [5:58pm] WUSA-9 is on the scene now, reporting from the Michigan Ave overpass and looking down over the wrecked trains. They’re reporting a lot of soft-tissue injuries (ankle-sprains, etc) They’re showing images of two train cars stacked like cordwood. This is eerily reminiscent of the red line crash a few years ago.

Update 5 [5:57pm] Fox 5 is reporting that at least two full cars were involved in this crash, with a possibility of some others.

Update 4: [5:55pm] WMATA has provided an update via their website:

A six-car Red Line train headed in the direction of Shady Grove derailed between the Takoma and Fort Totten Metrorail stations today and was involved in a collision with another train at 5 p.m. today, Monday, June 22.

Metro officials advise that people avoid the Red Line this afternoon. Trains are operating between Glenmont and Takoma Metrorail and between Shady Grove and Brookland stations for the remainder of the day.

There are preliminary reports of injuries on board, some serious. Emergency officials are responding to the scene.

Update 3: [5:55pm] Fox 5 is showing passengers streaming out the rear of the train and being ushered off to the side of the tracks. Michigan Avenue is now closed over the top of the tracks. There are some dramatic and scary images coming out of this.

Update 2: [5:46] We’ve gotten our first casualty estimate courtesy of Breaking News On via Twitter who say there’s at least one fatality and ten seventy injuries on the train.

Update 1: [5:44pm] The two trains are atop one another, related to the derailment, with shades of the terrible crash on the red line a few years ago that left many injured and the Red line broken for days. DC Fire & EMS has issued a mass casualty alert related to the event (via Fox 5 News).

Michigan Ave NE is going to be a traffic mess, so avoid the area by Catholic University if at all possible by car or by mass transit, it’s going to be a nightmare.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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4 thoughts on “Metro Derailment, Collision at Fort Totten, 6 Dead

  1. I was on those red line train about 2 cars behind. I just uploaded the pictures and I am thankful I didn’t leave work earlier….the pics are horrible and it is just to close to home for me

  2. Is there a out-of-the-area phone# that leads to DC’s 311? My brother works at the state dept, and though he lives in VA, not MD, and the train was inbound to DC, not outbound from, I can’t get him or his wife on any of their #s. I’m worried.